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B A BV LON REVISITED 

By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD 



EDITED By 
R A VMON D rOU L A R D. JR. 



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BABYLON 
REVISITED 

By F. SCOTT FITZGERALD 



EDITED By 
R A YMON D FOULARD, JR. 




Number Twenty-six 



Babylon Revisited (1931) 

by F. Scott Fitzgerald 



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"And wbere's Mr. Campbell?" Cbarlie asked. 

"Gone to Switzerland. Mr. Campbell's a pretty sick man, Mr. Wales." 

"I'm sorry to bear tbat. And George Hardt?" Cbarlie inquired. 

"Back in America, gone to work." 

"And wbere is tbe Snow Bird?" 

"He was in bere last week. Anyway, bis rriend, Mr. Scbaeirer, is in Paris." 

Two ramiliar names rrom tbe long list or a year and a ball ago. Cbarlie 
scribbled an address in bis notebook and tore out tbe page. 

"II you see Mr. Scbaeller, give bim tbis," be said. "It's my brotber-in-law's 
address. I baven't settled on a botel yet." 

He was not really disappointed to lind Paris was so empty. But tbe stillness 
in tbe Ritz bar was strange and portentous. It was not an American bar any 
more — be relt polite in it, and not as ir be owned it. It bad gone back into 
France. He relt tbe stillness rrom tbe moment be got out or tbe taxi and saw tbe 
doorman, usually in a trenzy or activity at tbis bour, gossiping witb a chasseur by 
tbe servants' entrance. 

Passing tbrougb tbe corridor, be beard only a single, bored voice in tbe 
once-clamorous women's room. When be turned into tbe bar be traveled tbe 
twenty reet or green carpet witb bis eyes rixed straigbt abead by old babit; and 
tben, witb bis loot lirmly on tbe rail, be turned and surveyed tbe room, encoun- 
tering only a single pair or eyes tbat buttered up Irom a newspaper in tbe corner. 
Cbarlie asked lor tbe bead barman, Paul, wbo in tbe latter days or tbe bull 
market bad come to work in bis own custom-built car — disembarking, bowever, 



Babylon Revisited 



with due nicety at the nearest corner. But Paul was at his country house today 
and Alix giving him information. 

"No, no more," Charlie said. "I'm going slow these days." 

Alix congratulated him: "Yau were going pretty strong a couple ol years 
ago." 

"I'll stick to it all right," Charlie assured him. "I've stuch to it for over a 
year and a hair now." 

"How do you lind conditions in America?" 

"I haven't been to America ror months. I'm in business in Prague, repre- 
senting a couple or concerns there. They don't know about me down there." 

Alix smiled. 

"Remember the night or George Hardt's bachelor dinner here?" said Charlie. 
"By the way, what's become or Claude Fessenden?" 

Alix lowered his voice confidentially: "He's in Paris, but he doesn't come 
here any more. Paul doesn't allow it. He ran up a bill or thirty thousand francs, 
charging all his drinks and his lunches, and usually his dinner, ror more than a 
year. And when Paul linally told him he had to pay, he gave him a bad check." 

Alix snook his head sadly. 

"I don't understand it, such a dandy fellow. Now he's all bloated up — " He 
made a plump apple or his hands. 

Charlie watched a group or strident queens installing themselves in a cor- 
ner. 

"Nothing affects them," he thought. "Stocks rise and rail, people loaf or 
work, but they go on forever." The place oppressed him. He called ror the dice 
and shook with Alix lor the drink. 

"Here ror long, Mr. ^Kiles?" 

"I'm here ror four or rive days to see my little girl." 

"Oh-h! Yau have a little girl?" 

Outside, the lire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through 
the tranquil rain. It was late alternoon and the streets were in movement; the 
bistros gleamed. At the corner or the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. 
The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical 
Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality or the left bank. 

Charlie directed his taxi to the Avenue de 1'Opera, which was out or his way. 
But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over the magnilicent fagade, and 
imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly the first lew bars or he Plus que 



F. Scott Fitzgerald 



Lent, were the trumpets of the Second Empire. They were closing the iron grill in 
front of Brentano's Book-store, and people were already at dinner behind the 
trim little bourgeois hedge of Duval's. He had never eaten at a really cheap 
restaurant in Paris. Five-course dinner, four francs fifty, eighteen cents, wine 
included. For some odd reason he wished he had. 

As they rolled on to the Left Bank and he felt its sudden provincialism, he 
thought, "I spoiled this city for myself. I didn't realize it, but the days came along 
one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I 
was gone. 

He was thirty-live, and good to look at. The Irish mobility of his lace was 
sobered by a deep wrinkle between his eyes. As he rang his brother-in-law's bell in 
the Rue Palatine, the wrinkle deepened till it pulled down his brows; he felt a 
cramping sensation in his belly. From behind the maid who opened the door 
darted a lovely little girl of nine who shrieked "Daddy!" and flew up, struggling 
like a lish, into his arms. She pulled his head around by one ear and set her cheek 
against his. 

"My old pie," he said. 

"Oh, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, dads, dads, dads, dads!" 

She drew him into the salon, where the family waited, a boy and a girl his 
daughter's age, his sister-in-law and her husband. He greeted Marion with his 
voice pitched carefully to avoid either leigned enthusiasm or dislike, but her 
response was more frankly tepid, though she minimized her expression of unal- 
terable mistrust by directing her regard toward his child. The two men clasped 
hands in a Iriendly way and Lincoln Peters rested his for a moment on Charlie's 
shoulder. 

The room was warm and comlortably American. The three children moved 
intimately about, playing through the yellow oblongs that led to other rooms; the 
cheer ol six o'clock spoke in the eager smacks of the fire and the sounds of 
French activity in the kitchen. But Charlie did not relax; his heart sat up rigidly 
in his body and he drew conlidence Irom his daughter, who from time to time 
came close to him, holding in her arms the doll he had brought. 

"Really extremely well, " he declared in answer to Lincoln's question. "There's 
a lot ol business there that isn't moving at all, but we're doing better than ever. In 
fact, damn well. I'm bringing my sister over Irom America next month to keep 
house for me. My income last year was bigger than it was when I had money, ^u 
see, the Czechs — " 



Babylon Revisited 



His boasting was lor a specilic purpose; but alter a moment, seeing a mint 
restiveness in Lincoln's eye, be changed tbe subject: 

"Tbose are line children ol yours, well brougbt up, good manners." 

"We think Honoria's a great little girl too." 

Marion Peters came back Irom tbe kitchen. Sbe was a tall woman witb 
worried eyes, wbo bad once possessed a Iresb American loveliness. Cbarlie bad 
never been sensitive to it and was always surprised wben people spoke or bow 
pretty sbe bad been. From tbe lirst tbere bad been an instinctive antipatby be- 
tween tbem. 

"Well, bow do you rind Honoria?" sbe asked. 

"Wbnderiul. I was astonisbed bow mucb sbe's grown in ten montbs. All tbe 
cbildren are looking well." 

"We baven't bad a doctor lor a year. How do you nke being back in Paris?" 

"It seems runny to see so lew Americans around." 

"I'm deligbted," Marion said vebemently. "Now at least you can go into a 
store witbout tbeir assuming you're a millionaire. We've suiiered like everybody, 
but on tbe wbole it's a good deal pleasanter." 

"But it was nice wbile it lasted," Cbarlie said. "We were sort or royalty, 
almost inlallible, witb a sort or magic around us. In tbe bar tbis alternoon" — be 
stumbled, seeing bis mistake — "tbere wasn't a man I knew." 

Sbe looked keenly at bim. "I sbould tbink you'd bave bad enougb or bars." 

"I only stayed a minute. I take one drink every arternoon, and no more." 

"Don't you want a cocktail belore dinner?" Lincoln asked. 

"I take only one drink every arternoon, and I've bad that." 

"I bope you keep to it," said Marion. 

Her dislike was evident in tbe coldness witb wbicb sbe spoke, but Cbarlie 
only smiled; be bad larger plans. Her very aggressiveness gave bim an advantage, 
and be knew enougb to wait. He wanted tbem to initiate tbe discussion or wbat 
tbey knew bad brougbt bim to Paris. 

At dinner be couldn't decide wbetber Honoria was most nke bim or ber 
motber. Fortunate it sbe didn't combine tbe traits or botb tbat bad brougbt 
tbem to disaster. He tbougbt be knew wbat to do ror ber. He believed in cbarac- 
ter; be wanted to jump back a wbole generation and trust in cbaracter again as 
tbe eternally valuable element. Everytbing else wore out. 

He lert soon arter dinner, but not to go borne. He was curious to see Paris 
by nigbt witb clearer and more judicious eyes tban tbose or otber days. He bougbt 



F. Scott Fitzgerald 



a strapontin lor tbe Casino and watcbed Josepbine Baker go tbrougb ber choco- 
late arabesques. 

Alter an bour be lert and strolled toward Montmartre, up tbe Rue Pigalle 
into tbe Place Blancbe. Tbe rain bad stopped and tbere were a lew people in 
evening clotbes disembarking Irom taxis in iront or cabarets, and cocottes prowl- 
ing singly or in pairs, and many Negroes. He passed a ligbted door irom wbicb 
issued music, and stopped witb a sense or lamiliarity; it was Bricktop's, wbere be 
bad parted witb so many bours and so mucb money. A lew doors lartber on be 
iound anotber ancient rendezvous and incautiously put bis bead inside. Immedi- 
ately an eager orcbestra burst into sound, a pair ol prolessional dancers leaped to 
tbeir leet and a maitre d'botel swooped toward him, crying, "Crowd just arriving, 
sir! " But he withdrew quickly. 

"You would have to be damn drunk," he thought. 

Zelli's was closed, the bleak and sinister cheap hotels surrounding it were 
dark; up in the Rue Blanche there was more light and a local, colloquial French 
crowd. The Poet's Cave had disappeared, but the two great mouths ol the Cale ol 
Heaven and the Cale ol Hell still yawned — even devoured, as he watched, the 
meager contents or a tourist bus — a German, a Japanese, and an American 
couple who glanced at him with Irightened eyes. 

So much lor the eiiort and ingenuity ol Montmartre. All the catering to 
vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the 
meaning ol the word "dissipate" — to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out 
or something. In the little hours ol the night every move irom place to place was 
an enormous human jump, an increase ol paying lor the privilege ol slower and 
slower motion. 

He remembered thousand-lranc notes given to an orchestra lor playing a 
single number, hundred-lranc notes tossed to a doorman lor calling a cab. 

But it hadn't been given lor nothing. 

It had been given, even the most wildly squandered sum, as an ollering to 
destiny that he might not remember the things most worth remembering, the 
things that now he would always remember — his child taken Irom his control, his 
wile escaped to a grave in Vermont. 

In the glare ol a brasserie, a woman spoke to him. He bought her some eggs 
and collee, and then, eluding her encouraging stare, gave her a twenty-iranc note 
and took a taxi to his hotel. 



Babylon Revisited 



II 



He woke upon a line iall day — rootball weather. The depression or yesterday was 
gone and he liked the people on the streets. At noon he sat opposite Honoria at 
Le Grand Vatel, the only restaurant he could think or not reminiscent or cham- 
pagne dinners and long luncheons that began at two and ended in a blurred and 
vague twilight. 

"Now, how about vegetables. Oughtn't you to have some vegetables?" 

"Well, yes." 

"Here's epinaras and cnou-fleur and carrots and haricots." 

"I'd like the cnou-fleur." 

"Wouldn't you like to have two vegetables?" 

"I usually only have one at lunch." 

The waiter was pretending to be inordinately rond or children. "Qu 'elle est 
mignonne la petite! Elle parle exactement comme une Francaise." 



"How about dessert? Shall we wait and i 



,?" 



The waiter disappeared. Honoria looked at her lather expectantly. 

"What are we going to do?" 

"First, we're going to that toy store in the Rue Saint-Honore and buy you 
anything you like. And then we're going to the vaudeville at the Empire." 

She hesitated. "I like it about the vaudeville, but not the toy store." 

"Why not?" 

"Well, you bought me this doll." She had it with her. "And I've lots or 
things. And we're not rich any more, are we?" 

"We never were. But today you are to have anything you want." 

"All right," she agreed resignedly. 

When there had been her mother and a French nurse he had been inclined 
to be strict; now he extended himselr, reached out lor a new tolerance; he must be 
both parents to her and not shut any or her out or communication. 

"I want to get to know you," he said gravely. "First let me introduce mysell. 
My name is Charles J. Wales, or Prague." 

"Oh, daddy!" her voice cracked with laughter. 

"And who are you, please? " he persisted, and she accepted a role immedi- 
ately: "Honoria Wales, Rue Palatine, Paris." 

"Married or single?" 

"No, not married. Single." 



10 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



He indicated the doll. "But I see you have a child, madame." 

Unwilling to disinherit it, she took it to her heart and thought quickly: "Yes, 

I've been married, but I'm not married now. My husband is dead." 
He went on quickly, "And the child's name?" 
"Simone. That's alter my best Iriend at school." 
"I'm very pleased that you're doing so well at school." 
"I'm third this month," she boasted. "Elsie" — that was her cousin — "is 

only about eighteenth, and Richard is at the bottom." 
"Ysu like Richard and Elsie, don't you?" 
"Oh, yes. I like Richard quite well, and I like her all right." 
Cautiously and casually he asked: "And Aunt Marion and Uncle Lincoln — 




Babylon Revisited • 11 



which do you like best?" 

"Uncle Lincoln, I guess." 

He was increasingly aware or her presence. As they came in, a murmur oi 
"... adorable" lollowed them, and now the people at the next table bent all their 
silences upon her, staring as ii she were something no more conscious than a 
llower. 

"Why don't I live with you?" she ashed suddenly. "Because mamma's dead?" 

"Yau must stay here and learn more French. It would have been hard lor 
daddy to tahe care ol you so well." 

"I don't really need much tahing care ol any more. I do everything lor 
mysell." 

Going out or the restaurant, a man and a woman unexpectedly hailed him. 

"Well, the old Wales!" 

"Hello there, Lorraine. . . . Dune." 

Sudden ghosts out or the past: Duncan Schaeller, a Iriend Irom college. 
Lorraine Quarries, a lovely, pale blonde ol thirty; one oi a crowd who had helped 
them mahe months into days in the lavish times or three years ago. 

"My husband couldn't come this year," she said, in answer to his question. 
"We're poor as hell. So he gave me two hundred a month and told me I could do 
my worst on that. . . . This your little girl?" 

"What about coming bach and sitting down?" Duncan ashed. 

"Can't do it." He was glad lor an excuse. As always, he lelt Lorraine's 
passionate, provocative attraction, but his own rhythm was dillerent now. 

"Well, how about dinner?" she ashed. 

"I'm not iree. Give me your address and let me call you." 

"Charlie, I believe you're sober," she said judicially. "I honestly believe he's 
sober, Dune. Pinch him and see ii he's sober" 

Charlie indicated Honoria with his head. They both laughed. 

"What's your address?" said Duncan skeptically 

He hesitated, unwilling to give the name or his hotel. 

"I'm not settled yet. I'd better call you. We're going to see the vaudeville at 
the Empire." 

"There! That's what I want to do," Lorraine said. "I want to see some 
clowns and acrobats and jugglers. That's just what we'll do, Dune." 

"We've got to do an errand iirst," said Charlie. "Perhaps we'll see you there." 

"All right, you snob. . . . Good-by, beautiiul little girl." 



12 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



"Good-by." 

Honoria bobbed politely. 

Somehow, an unwelcome encounter. They liked him because he was iunc- 
tioning, because he was serious; they wanted to see him, because he was stronger 
than they were now, because they wanted to draw a certain sustenance irom his 
strength. 

At the Empire, Honoria proudly reiused to sit upon her lather's iolded 
coat. She was already an individual with a code or her own, and Charlie was more 
and more absorbed by the desire oi putting a little or himseli into her beiore she 
crystallized utterly. It was hopeless to try to know her in so short a time. 

Between the acts they came upon Duncan and Lorraine in the lobby where 
the band was playing. 

"Have a drink?" 

"All right, but not up at the bar. We'll take a table." 

"The periect lather." 

Listening abstractedly to Lorraine, Charlie watched Honoria's eyes leave 
their table, and he lollowed them wistiully about the room, wondering what they 
saw. He met her glance and she smiled. 

"I liked that lemonade," she said. 

What had she said? What had he expected? Going home in a taxi aiter- 
ward, he pulled her over until her head rested against his chest. 

"Darling, do you ever think about your mother?" 

"^tes, sometimes," she answered vaguely. 

"I don't want you to iorget her. Have you got a picture oi her?" 

"^les, I think so. Aunt Marion has. Why don't you want me to iorget her?" 

"She loved you very much." 

"I loved her too." 

They were silent ior a moment. 

"Daddy, I want to come and live with you," she said suddenly. 

His heart leaped; he had wanted it to come like this. 

"Aren't you periectly happy?" 

"^s, but I love you better than anybody. And you love me better than 
anybody, don't you, now that mummy's dead?" 

"Oi course I do. But you won't always like me best, honey. Ysu'U grow up 
and meet somebody your own age and go marry him and iorget you ever had a 
daddy." 



Babylon Revisited • 13 



"Yes, that's true," she said tranquilly. 

He didn't go in. He was coming bach at nine o'clock and he wanted to heep 
himseli rresh and new lor the thing he must say then. 

"When you're sale inside, just show yoursell in that window." 

"All right. Good-by, dads, dads, dads, dads." 

He waited in the dark street until she appeared, all warm and glowing, in 
the window above and hissed her lingers out into the night. 



Ill 



They were waiting. Marion sat behind the colree service in a dignilied black 
dinner dress that just laintly suggested mourning. Lincoln was walking up and 
down with the animation or one who had already been talking. They were as 
anxious as he was to get into the question. He opened it almost immediately: 

"I suppose you know what I want to see you about — why I really came to 
Paris." 

Marion played with the black stars on her necklace and Irowned. 

"I'm awrully anxious to have a home," he continued. "And I'm awtully 
anxious to have Honoria in it. I appreciate your taking in Honoria ror her mother's 
sake, but things have changed now" — he hesitated and then continued more 
lorcibly — "changed radically with me, and I want to ask you to reconsider the 
matter. It would be silly ror me to deny that about three years ago I was acting 
badly — " 

Marion looked up at him with hard eyes. 

" — but all that's over. As I told you, I haven't had more than a drink a day 
ror over a year, and I take that drink deliberately, so that the idea or alcohol won't 
get too big in my imagination. You see the idea?" 

"No," said Marion succinctly. 

"It's a sort or stunt I set myselr. It keeps the matter in proportion." 

"I get you," said Lincoln, "Y>u don't want to admit it's got any attraction 
ror you." 

"Something like that. Sometimes I rorget and don't take it. But I try to 
take it. Anyhow, I couldn't allord to drink in my position. The people I represent 
are more than satislied with what I've done, and I'm bringing my sister over Irom 
Burlington to keep house lor me, and I want awtully to have Honoria too. You 
know that even when her mother and I weren't getting along well we never let 



14 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



anything that happened touch Honoria. I know she's rond or me and I know I'm 
able to take care or her and — well, there you are. How do you reel about it?" 

He knew that now he would have to take a beating. It would last an hour or 
two hours, and it would be dillicult, but ir he modulated his inevitable resent- 
ment to the chastened attitude or the relormed sinner, he might win his point in 
the end. 

Keep your temper, he told himseli. You don't want to be justiried. You want 
Honoria. 

Lincoln spoke lirst: "We've been talking it over ever since we got 
your letter last month. We're happy to have Honoria here. She's a dear little 
thing, and we're glad to be able to help her, but or course that isn't the question — 

Marion interrupted suddenly. "How long are you going to stay sober, 
Charlie?" she asked. 

"Permanently, I hope." 

"How can anybody count on that?" 

"You know I never did drink heavily until I gave up business and 
came over here with nothing to do. Then Helen and I began to run around 
with — " 

"Please leave Helen out or it. I can't bear to hear you talk about her like 
that." 

He stared at her grimly; he had never been certain how lond or each other 
the sisters were in lile. 

"My drinking only lasted a year and a hall — Irom the time we came over 
until I — collapsed." 

"It was time enough." 

"It was time enough," he agreed. 

"My duty is entirely to Helen," she said. "I try to think what she would have 
wanted me to do. Frankly, Irom the night you did that terrible thing you haven't 
really existed ror me. I can't help that. She was my sister." 

"V " 

res. 

"When she was dying she asked me to look out ror Honoria. Ir you hadn't 
been in a sanitorium then, it might have helped matters." 

He had no answer. 

"I'll never in my lire be able to lorget the morning when Helen knocked at 
my door, soaked to the skin and shivering, and said you'd locked her out." 



Babylon Revisited • 15 



Charlie gripped the sides oi the chair. This was more dirlicult than he 
expected; he wanted to launch out into a long expostulation and explanation, tut 
he only said: "The night I locked her out — " and she interrupted, "I don't reel up 
to going over that again." 

Aiter a moment's silence Lincoln said: "We're getting oil the subject. Ysu 
want Marion to set aside her legal guardianship and give you Honoria. I think 
the main point lor her is whether she has conlidence in you or not." 

"I don't blame Marion," Charlie said slowly, "but I think she can have 
entire conlidence in me. I had a good record up to three years ago. Or course, it's 
within human possibilities I might go wrong any time. But ir we wait much 
longer I'll lose Honoria's childhood and my chance ror a home." He shook his 
head, "I'll simply lose her, don't you see?" 

"^tes, I see." said Lincoln. 

"Why didn't you think ol all this belore?" Marion asked. 

"I suppose I did, irom time to time, but Helen and I were getting along 
badly. When I consented to the guardianship, I was Hat on my back in a sanito- 
rium and the market had cleaned me out. I knew I'd acted badly, and I thought 
ir it would bring any peace to Helen, I'd agree to anything. But now it's diiierent. 
I'm lunctioning, I'm behaving damn well, so iar as — 

"Please don't swear at me," Marion said. 

He looked at her, startled. With each remark the iorce or her dislike be- 
came more and more apparent. She had built up all her lear ol lire into one wall 
and laced it toward him. This trivial reprool was possibly the result ol some 
trouble with the cook several hours belore. Charlie became increasingly alarmed 
at leaving Honoria in this atmosphere or hostilitiy against himsell; sooner or 
later it would come out, in a word here, a shake ol the head there, and some or 
that distrust would be irrevocably implanted in Honoria. But he pulled his tem- 
per down out or his race and shut it up inside him; he had won a point, ror 
Lincoln realized the absurdity ol Marion's remark and asked her lightly since 
when she had objected to the word "damn." 

"Another thing," Charlie said: "I'm able to give her certain advantages now. 
I'm going to take a French governess to Prague with me. I've got a lease on a new 
apartment — 

He stopped, realizing he was blundering. They couldn't be expected to ac- 
cept with equanimity the iact that his income was again twice as large as their 



16 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



"I suppose you can give her more luxuries than we can," said Marion. 
"When you were throwing away money we were living along watching every ten 
irancs. ... I suppose you'll start doing it again." 

"Oh, no," he said. "I've learned. I worked hard ror ten years, you know — 
until I got lucky in the market, like so many people. Terribly lucky. It didn't seem 
any use working any more, so I quit." 

There was a long silence. All or them lelt their nerves straining, and lor the 
lirst time in a year Charlie wanted a drink. He was sure now that Lincoln Peters 
wanted him to have his child. 

Marion shuddered suddenly; part or her saw that Charlie's ieet were planted 
on the earth now, and her own maternal reelings recognized the naturalness or 
his desire; but she had lived lor a long time with a prejudice — a prejudice rounded 
on a curious disbeliei in her sister's happiness, and which, in the shock or one 
terrible night, had turned to hatred lor him. It had all happened at a point in her 
lire when the discouragement ol ill health and adverse circumstances made it 
necessary lor her to believe in tangible villainy and a tangible villain. 

"I can't help what I think!" she cried out suddenly. "How much you were 
responsible lor Helen's death, I don't know. It's something you'll have to square 
with your own conscience." 

An electric current or agony surged through him; lor a moment he was 
almost on his leet, an unuttered echoing in his throat. He hung on to himsell lor 
a moment, another moment. 

"Hold on there," said Lincoln uncomlortably. "I never thought you were 
responsible lor that." 

"Helen died or heart trouble," Charlie said dully. 

"^s, heart trouble." Marion spoke as il the phrase had another meaning 
lor her. 

Then, in the Hatness that lollowed her outburst, she saw him plainly and 
she knew he had somehow arrived at control over the situation. Glancing at her 
husband, she lound no help Irom him, and as abruptly as ir it were a matter or no 
importance, she threw up the sponge. 

"Do what you like!" she cried, springing up irom her chair. "She's your 
child. I'm not the person to stand in your way. I think il it were my child I'd 
rather see her — " She managed to check herseli. "Ysu two decide it. I can't stand 
this. I'm sick. I'm going to bed." 

She hurried irom the room; alter a moment Lincoln said: 



Babylon Revisited • 17 



"This has been a hard day lor her. Ysu know how strongly she reels — " His 
voice was almost apologetic: "When a woman gets an idea in her head." 

"Or course." 

"It's going to be all right. I thinh she sees now that you — can provide lor the 
child, and we can't very well stand in your way or Honoria S way." 

"Thanh you, Lincoln." 

"I'd better go along and see how she is." 

"I'm going." 

He was still trembling when he reached the street, but a walk, down the Rue 
Bonaparte to the quais set him up, and as he crossed the Seine, Iresh and new by 
the quai lamps, he lelt exultant. But bach in his room he couldn't sleep. The 
image ol Helen haunted him. Helen whom he had loved so until they had sense- 
lessly begun to abuse each other's love, tear it into shreds. On that terrible Feb- 
ruary night that Marion remembered so vividly, a slow quarrel had gone on lor 
hours. There was a scene at the Florida, and then he attempted to tahe her 
home, and then she hissed young Webb at a table; alter that there was what she 
had hysterically said. When he arrived home alone he turned the hey in the loch 
in wild anger. How could he know she would arrive an hour later alone, that there 
would be a snowstorm in which she wandered about in slippers, too conlused to 
lind a taxi? Then the altermath, and all the attendant horror. They were "recon- 
ciled," but that was the beginning ol the end, and Marion, who had seen with her 
own eyes and who imagined it to be one or many scenes irom her sister's martyr- 
dom, never lorgot. 

Going over it again brought Helen nearer, and in the white, solt light that 
steals upon hall sleep near morning he lound himsell talking to her again. She 
said that he was perlectly right about Honoria and that she wanted Honoria to be 
with him. She said she was glad he was being good and doing better. She said a 
lot ol other things — very Iriendly things — but she was in a swing in a white dress, 
and swinging raster and raster all the time, so that in the end he could not hear 
clearly all that she said. 



IV 



He wohe up reeling happy. The door or the world was open again. He made plans, 
vistas, lutures lor Honoria and himsell, but suddenly he grew sad, remembering 
all the plans he and Helen had made. She had not planned to die. The present 
was the thing — work to do and someone to love. But not to love too much, lor he 



18 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



knew the injury that a lather can do to a daughter or a mother to a son by 
attaching them too closely: alterward, out in the world, the child would seeh in 
the marriage partner the same blind tenderness and, railing probably to lind it, 
turn against love and lire. 

It was another bright, crisp day. He called Lincoln Peters at the bank where 
he worhed and asked ii he could count on tahing Honoria when he lelt lor 
Prague. Lincoln agreed that there was no reason lor deal. One thing — the legal 
guardianship. Marion wanted to retain that a while longer. She was upset by the 
whole matter, and it would oil things il she lelt that the situation was still in her 
control lor another year. Charlie agreed, wanting only the tangible, visible child. 

Then the question or a governess. Charles sat in a gloomy agency and 
talhed to a cross Bearnaise and to a buxom Breton peasant, neither ol whom he 
could have endured. There were others whom he would see tomorrow. 

He lunched with Lincoln Peters at Grillons, trying to keep down his exul- 
tation. 

"There's nothing quite like your own child," Lincoln said. "But you under- 
stand how Marion leels too. " 

"She's lorgotten how hard I worhed lor seven years there," Charlie said. 
"She just remembers one night." 

"There's another thing." Lincoln hesitated. "While you and Helen were 
tearing around Europe throwing money away, we were just getting along. I didn't 
touch any ol the prosperity because I never got ahead enough to carry anything 
but my insurance. I thinh Marion lelt there was some kind or injustice in it — 
you not even working toward the end, and getting richer and richer." 

"It went just as quich as it came," said Charlie. 

"Yes, a lot ol it stayed in the hands ol chasseurs and saxophone players and 
maitres d'hotel — well, the big party's over now. I just said that to explain Marion's 
reeling about those crazy years. II you drop in about six o'clock tonight beiore 
Marion's too tired, we'll settle the details on the spot." 

Bach at his hotel, Charlie lound a pneumatique that had been redirected 
irom the Ritz bar where Charlie had lelt his address lor the purpose ol linding a 
certain man. 

"Dear Charlie: You were so strange when we saw you the other day that I 
wondered if I did something to offend you. If so, I'm not conscious of it. In 
fact, I have thought about you too much for the last year, and it 's always 
been in the back of my mind that I might see you if I came over here. We 



Babylon Revisited 



19 



did have such good times that crazy spring, like the night you and I stole 
the butcher's tricycle, and the time we tried to call on the president and you 
had the old derby rim and the wire cane. Everybody seems so old lately, 
but I don t feel old a bit. Couldn t we get together some time today for old 
time's sake? I've got a vile hang-over for the moment, but will be feeling 
better this afternoon and will look for you about five in the sweatshop at 
the Ritz. 

— Always devotedly, 

— Lorraine. 

His lirst reeling was one ol awe that he had actually, in his mature years, stolen a 
tricycle and pedaled Lorraine all over the Etoile between the small hours and 
dawn. In retrospect it was a nightmare. Locking out Helen didn't lit in with any 
other act or his lire, nut the tricycle incident did — it was one or many. How many 
weeks or months 01 dissipation to arrive at that condition or utter irresponsibil- 
ity? 

He tried to picture how Lorraine appeared to him then — very attractive; 
Helen was unhappy about it, though she said nothing. Yesterday, in the restau- 
rant, Lorraine had seemed trite, blurred, worn away. He emphatically did not 
want to see her, and he was glad Alix had not given away his hotel address. It was 
a relier to think, instead, or Honoria, to think or Sundays spent with her and or 
saying good morning to her and ol knowing she was there in his house at night, 
drawing her breath in the darkness. 

At live he took a taxi and bought presents lor all the Peters — a piquant 
cloth doll, a box ol Roman soldiers, ilowers lor Marion, big linen hankerchieis 
lor Lincoln. 

He saw, when he arrived in the apartment, that Marion had accepted the 
inevitable. She greeted him now as though he were a recalcitrant member or the 
lamily, rather than a menacing outsider. Honoria had been told she was going; 
Charlie was glad to see that her tact made her conceal her excessive happiness. 
Only on his lap did she whisper her delight and the question "When? " berore she 
slipped away with the other children. 

He and Marion were alone lor a minute in the room, and on an impulse he 
spoke out boldly: 

"Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. 
They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't 



20 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



heal because there's not enough material. I wish you and I could be on better 
terms. 

"Some things are hard to rorget," she answered. "It's a question or confi- 
dence." There was no answer to this and presently she asked: "When do you 
propose to take her?" 

"As soon as I can get a governess. I hoped the day alter to-morrow." 

"That's impossible. I've got to get her things in shape. Not berore Satur- 
day." 

He yielded. Coming back into the room, Lincoln ollered him a drink. 

"I'll take my daily whiskey." 

It was warm here, it was home, people together by a lire. The children belt 
very sale and important; the mother and lather were serious, watchhil. They had 
things to do lor the children more important than his visit here. A spoonrul or 
medicine was, alter all, more important than the strained relations between Marion 
and himsell. They were not dull people, but they were very much in the grip or 
lite and circumstances. He wondered il he couldn't do something to get Lincoln 
out or his rut at the bank. 

A long peal at the door-bell; the bonne a tout f aire passed through and went 
down the corridor. The door opened upon another long ring, and then voices, 
and the three in the salon looked up expectantly; Richard moved to bring the 
corridor within his range or vision, and Marion rose. Then the maid came back 
along the corridor, closely lollowed by the voices, which developed under the light 
into Duncan Schaeller and Lorraine Quarries. 

They were gay, they were hilarious, they were roaring with laughter. For a 
moment Charlie was astounded; unable to understand how they lerreted out the 
Peters' address. 

"Ah-h-h!" Duncan wagged his linger roguishly at Charlie. "Ah-h-h!" 

They both slid down another cascade or laughter. Anxious and at a loss, 
Charlie shook hands with them quickly and presented them to Lincoln and 
Marion. Marion nodded, scarcely speaking. She had drawn back a step toward 
the lire; her little girl stood beside her, and Marion put an arm around her 
shoulder. 

With growing annoyance at the intrusion, Charlie waited lor them to ex- 
plain themselves. Alter some concentration Duncan said: 

"Wj came to invite you out to dinner. Lorraine and I insist that all this chi- 
chi, cagy business 'bout your address got to stop." 



Babylon Revisited • 21 



Charlie came closer to them, as ii to rorce them backward down the corri- 
dor. 

"Sorry, but I can't. Tell me where you'll be and I'll phone you in hall an 
hour. 

This made no impression. Lorraine sat down suddenly on the side or a 
chair, and locusing her eyes on Richard, cried, "Oh, what a nice little boy! Come 
here, little boy." Richard glanced at his mother, but did not move. With a percep- 
tible shrug or her shoulders, Lorraine turned bach to Charlie: 

"Come and dine. Sure your cousins won' mine. See you so sel'om. Or 
solemn." 

"I can't," said Charlie sharply. "Yau two have dinner and I'll phone you." 

Her voice became suddenly unpleasant. "All right, we'll go. But I remember 
once when you hammered on my door at lour a.m. I was enough or a good sport 
to give you a drinh. Come on, Dune." 

Still in slow motion, with blurred, angry laces, with uncertain reet, they 
retired along the corridor. 

"Good night," Charlie said. 

"Good night!" responded Lorraine emphatically. 

When he went bach into the salon Marion had not moved, only now her 
son was standing in the circle ol her other arm. Lincoln was still swinging Honoria 
bach and lorth like a pendulum rrom side to side. 

"What an outrage!" Charlie broke out. "What an absolute outrage!" 

Neither or them answered. Charlie dropped into an armchair, picked up his 
drink, set it down again and said: 

"People I haven't seen lor two years having the colossal nerve — " 

He broke oil. Marion had made the sound "Oh!" in one swirt, rurious 
breath, turned her body rrom him with a jerk and lelt the room. 

Lincoln set down Honoria carerully. 

"Yau children go in and start your soup," he said, and when they obeyed, he 
said to Charlie: 

"Marion's not well and she can't stand shocks. That kind ol people make 
her really physically sick." 

"I didn't tell them to come here. They wormed your name out or somebody. 
They deliberately — 

"Well, it's too bad. It doesn't help matters. Excuse me a minute." 

Lelt alone, Charlie sat tense in his chair. In the next room he could hear 



22 • F. Scott Fitzgerald 



the children eating, talking in monosyllables, already oblivious to the scene be- 
tween their elders. He heard a murmur or conversation Irom a larther room and 
then the tinkling bell or a telephone receiver picked up, and in a panic he moved 
to the other side or the room and out or earshot. 

In a minute Lincoln came back. "Look here, Charlie. I think we'd better 
call oil dinner lor tonight. Marion's in bad shape." 

"Is she angry with me?" 

"Sort ol," he said, almost roughly. "She's not strong and — " 

"Yau mean she's changed her mind about Honoria?" 

"She's pretty bitter right now. I don't know, ^u phone me at the bank 
tomorrow. , 

"I wish you'd explain to her 
I never dreamed these people 
would come here. I'm just as sore 
as you are. 

"I couldn't explain anything 
to her now." 

Charlie got up. He took his 
coat and hat and started down the 
corridor. Then he opened the 
door or the dining room and said 
in a strange voice, "Good night, 
children." 

Honoria rose and ran 
around the table to hug him. 

"Good night, sweetheart," 
he said vaguely, and then trying 
to make his voice more tender, 
trying to conciliate something, 
"Good night, dear children." 




V 



Charlie went directly to the Ritz bar with the rurious idea or linding Lorraine 
and Duncan, but they were not there, and he realized that in any case there was 
nothing he could do. He had not touched his drink at the Peters', and now he 



Babylon Revisited • 23 



ordered a whiskey-and-soda. Paul came over to say hello. 

"It's a great change," he said sadly. '"We do about hall the business we did. 
So many rellows I hear about bach in the States lost everything, maybe not in the 
first crash, but then in the second, ^ur mend George Hardt lost every cent, I 
hear. Are you bach in the States?" 

"No, I'm in business in Prague." 

"I heard you lost a lot in the crash." 

"I did," and he added grimly, "but I lost everything I wanted in the boom." 

"Selling short." 

"Something like that." 

Again the memory or those days swept over him lihe a nightmare — the 
people they had met traveling; then people who couldn't add a row or figures or 
speak a coherent sentence. The little man Helen had consented to dance with at 
the ship's party, who had insulted her ten feet from the table; the women and 
girls carried screaming with drink or drugs out or public places — 

— The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow or 
twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid some 
money. 

He went to the phone and called the Peters' apartment; Lincoln answered. 

"I called up because this thing is on my mind. Has Marion said anything 
delinite?" 

"Marion's sick," Lincoln answered shortly. "I know this thing isn't alto- 
gether your lault, but I can't have her go to pieces about it. I'm afraid we'll have 
to let it slide for six months; I can't take the chance or working her up to this 
state again. 

"I see." 

"I'm sorry, Charlie." 

He went back to his table. His whiskey glass was empty, but he shook his 
head when Alix looked at it questioningly. There wasn't much he could do now 
except send Honoria some things; he would send her a lot ol things tomorrow. 
He thought rather angrily that this was just money — he had given so many 
people money. . . . 

"No, no more," he said to another waiter. "What do I owe you?" 

He would come back some day; they couldn't make him pay lorever. But he 
wanted his child, and nothing was much good now, beside that fact. He wasn't 
young anymore, with a lot or nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. He 
was absolutely sure Helen wouldn't have wanted him to be so alone. 

24 • F. Scott Fitzgerald